Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dave's Favorite Books of the '00s

Although I (Seth) read a, um, respectable number of books in this decade, they were all of a pretty similar nature (suspense/thriller, page-turner) by the same few authors. I will cite those favorite authors below, but for a much more well-rounded "Favorite Books of the '00s" opinion, I thought it best to defer to my friend Dave Brown, a prolific reader who cited these as his Best of the Decade (all are fiction, Dave's preference, except where noted):

1. Peter Matthiessen - Shadow Country - Trilogy in '90’s-Reworked into one novel in ’08.
2. David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas - Six stories from 19th Century to future; connected in ultra-clever ways
3. Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections - Family drama; brilliantly done
4. Philip Roth - The Human Stain - Third in a loose trilogy
5. Dennis Lehane - Mystic River
6. Haruki Murakami - Kafka On The Shore

7. Richard Price - Samaritan
8. Richard Ford - Lay Of The Land

9. Michael Chabon - The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay
10. Ian McEwan - Atonement

Honorable Mention:

Kate Atkinson - Case Histories
Jeffrey Eugenides - Middlesex
Paul Theroux - Dark Star Safari
- Only Non-Fiction book - Travels thru Africa years after author taught there
Ruth Rendell - Rottweiler - Could have chosen any of several others; finest living Crime Fiction author
Susanna Clarke - Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell - Only debut novel in the group
Paul Auster - Oracle Night - The Book Of Illusions was equally great; master at stories within stories
Margaret Atwood - Blind Assassin
P.D. James - Murder Room
- 2nd finest living Crime Fiction author
Tom Perrotta - Little Children
George Pelekanos - The Turnaround - Best hard-boiled author these days

And Dave's pick for Favorite Author of the '00s: Philip Roth or David Mitchell

(Seth): Seemingly, Dave read so many good books that he didn't even cite a well-reviewed book by his own brother, but I will give it a plug here (no, I haven't read it, but Dave did and liked it):

Curt Brown - So Terrible a Storm: A Tale of Fury on Lake Superior (Amazon)

OK, so I explained the constraints of my reading this decade above, but to be fair, I did read every book written (before or during the '00s) by the first 4 authors below, and several by the subsequent 2, so I do recommend their work, especially if you're looking for something fast to read in airports or on planes. I guess you could say these were My Favorite Authors of the Decade:

1. Lee Child - All of his Jack Reacher novels are fun reads; can't remember one from another, however
2. Harlan Coben - Start with Tell No One or Gone For Good
3. Dan Brown - Perhaps you've heard of The Da Vinci Code
4. Stieg Larsson - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and next two are all great reads by this now deceased author
5. Carl Hiaasen - I think I liked Basket Case best
6. John Grisham (though some things this decade were subpar) - I seem to recall The Broker, King of Torts, The Last Juror and the non-fiction The Innocent Man favorable; some others were subpar

My favorite non-fiction book, at least among those that I read in their entirety, was Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

I also got several coffee table-type books that I thought were excellent, but I think I'll rank those in a separate list on another day.

Two other quick plugs for books from this decade by people I know:

1. Ramble On: Six Months Around the World with Yer Typical American Family - by Roger Tauchman - I am friends with the aforementioned family and have read most of this fun travelogue. (Amazon)
2. Morgan Park: Duluth, U.S. Steel, and the Forging of a Company Town - by Arnold Alanan - Arnie is a friend of a friend and told me about this book on a long drive to the Upper Peninsula. I have not read it. (Amazon)

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